Enstatite meteorite clasts in Almahata Sitta and other polymict ureilites: Implications for the formation of asteroid 2008 TC3 and the history of enstatite meteorite parent asteroids

Cyrena Anne Goodrich, Hilary Downes, Richard Greenwood, Aidan J. Ross, Anna Maria Fioretti, Louise Alexander, Noriko T. Kita, Jon Butler, Michael J. Jercinovic, Peter Jenniskens, Muawia H. Shaddad

Version of Record online: 04 September 2023


“The anomalous polymict ureilite Almahata Sitta (AhS) fell in 2008 when asteroid 2008 TC3 disintegrated over Sudan and formed a strewn field of disaggregated clasts of various ureilitic and chondritic types. We studied the petrology and oxygen isotope compositions of enstatite meteorite samples from the University of Khartoum (UoK) collection of AhS. In addition, we describe the first bona fide (3.5 mm-sized) clast of an enstatite chondrite (EC) in a typical polymict ureilite, Northwest Africa (NWA) 10657. We evaluate whether 2008 TC3 and typical polymict ureilites have a common origin, and examine implications for the history of enstatite meteorite asteroids in the solar system. Based on mineralogy, mineral compositions, and textures, the seven AhS EC clasts studied comprise one EHa3 (S151), one ELb3 (AhS 1002), two EHb4-5 (AhS 2012, AhS 26), two EHb5-6 or possibly impact melt rocks (AhS 609, AhS 41), and one ELb6-7 (AhS 17), while the EC clast in NWA 10657 is EHa3. Oxygen isotope compositions analyzed for five of these are similar to those of EC from non-UoK collections of AhS, and within the range of individual EC meteorites. There are no correlations of oxygen isotope composition with chemical group or subgroup. The EC clasts from the UoK collection show the same large range of types as those from non-UoK collections of AhS. The enstatite achondrite, AhS 60, is a unique type (not known as an individual meteorite) that has also been found among non-UoK AhS samples. EC are the most abundant non-ureilitic clasts in AhS but previously were thought to be absent in typical polymict ureilites, necessitating a distinct origin for AhS. The discovery of an EC in NWA 10657 changes this. We argue that the types of materials in AhS and typical polymict ureilites are essentially similar, indicating a common origin. We elaborate on a model in which AhS and typical polymict ureilites formed in the same regolith on a ureilitic daughter body. Most non-ureilitic clasts are remnants of impactors implanted at ~50–60 Myr after CAI. Differences in abundances can be explained by the stochastic nature of impactor addition. There is no significant difference between the chemical/petrologic types of EC in polymict ureilites and individual EC meteorites. This implies that fragments of the same populations of EC parent bodies were available as impactors at ~50–60 Myr after CAI and recently. This can be explained if materials excavated from various depths on EC bodies at ~50–60 Myr after CAI were reassembled into mixed layers, leaving relatively large bodies intact to survive 4 billion years. Polymict ureilites record a critical timestep in the collisional and dynamical evolution of the solar system, showing that asteroids that may have accreted at distant locations had migrated to within proximity of one another by 50–60 Myr after CAI, and providing constraints on the dynamical processes that could have caused such migrations.”